Cason Thurmond, Jefferson: 103-pound champion in the Class AA East Sectionals last Saturday.
Cutler Finch, Jefferson: 125-pound champion in the Class AA East Sectionals.
Cam Thurmond, Jefferson: 135-pound champion in the Class AA East Sectionals.
Jay Fowler, Jefferson: 152-pound champion in the Class AA East Sectionals.
Zac Crosby, Jefferson: 171-pound champion in the Class AA East Sectionals.
Tania Perez, West Hall: Three goals against Monroe Area last Friday.
Rudy Vazquez, West Hall: Three goals against Monroe Area last Friday.
Ali Wellborn, Flowery Branch: Three goals against Stephens County last Friday.
Lindsay Porter, Flowery Branch: Three goals against Stephens County last Friday.
Hong Tran, Gainesville: 15-save shutout against Clarke Central last Thursday.
Daniel Vergara, Riverside Military: Five goals against East Jackson last Thursday.
Yun Bae Choi, Riverside Military: Four assists against East Jackson last Thursday.
Kaitlyn Hooper, White County: Two goals and one assist against Franklin County last Tuesday.
Chris Gaines, White County: Four goals against Franklin County last Tuesday.
Mark Bardenwerper, White County: Three goals against Franklin County last Tuesday.
Zac Lynn, Buford: 17 points against Cross Keys last Saturday.
Demonte Nelson, Buford: 17 points against Lovett last Friday.
Ashley Brown, Lumpkin County: 32 points against North Hall last Friday.
Kavon Williams, West Hall: 22 points against East Hall last Friday.
George Manomano, Gainesville: Averaged 23 points in two games last week.
Jaymee Carnes, Gainesville: 17 points against Johnson last Friday.
Devaris Finch, Johnson: Averaged 18 points in two games last week.
Jessica Harper, Flowery Branch: 21 points against West Forsyth last Friday.
Clare Tyler, Flowery Branch: 23 points against Johnson last Tuesday.
Peyton Robertson, Chestatee: 27 points and 10 rebounds against White County last Friday.
Branden Jovaag, Chestatee: 20 points against Gilmer last Tuesday.
Lamar Brooks, Chestatee: 17 points against Gilmer last Tuesday.
Brandon McKinney, Riverside Military: Averaged 23.5 points in two games last week.
Jacob Evans, Dawson County: 18 points against Rabun County last Friday.
Kymmon Woods, East Hall: 19 points and 11 rebounds against West Forsyth last Tuesday.
Dustin Duckworth, East Hall: 19 points and eight rebounds against West Forsyth last Tuesday.
Sarah Paschall, North Hall: 13 points and 10 rebounds against White County last Tuesday.
Lauren Kennedy, Banks County: 17 points against Jefferson last Tuesday.
OAKWOOD — West Hall High’s Juan Arbelaez began the 2009 soccer season with a new mindset: think positively.
“Last year, I was thinking negative,” the senior midfielder said. “Now I think positive, and I get my teammates involved.”
The strategy is working, and a quick glance at the Spartans’ statistics last week makes it crystal clear. Arbelaez scored five goals and added four assists in two dominant wins, making him one of the area’s leading scorers early in the season.
Arbelaez credits his five fellow senior teammates, who he has played with for years in middle school and in the Lanier Soccer Association, for his success. With such familiarity with each other, the West Hall (2-0) offense has wasted no time shutting down opponents, outscoring them 12-1 last week.
“The goals are just coming,” Arbelaez said. “I’ve played with some of my teammates since middle school, so that helps with chemistry.”
A decade of perfecting his game also helped Arbelaez realize his skills. Born in Columbia, he had already played soccer for six years before moving to Oakwood when he was 14. He then began playing for the middle school and other clubs, assisted by the guidance of his father, a former player himself, and his club coach, Sergio Magana, who was pivotal in elevating his game to an elite level.
“My dad has been my inspiration to get things done,” Arbelaez said. “Sergio has been like a second dad.”
Arbelaez’s breakthrough at the national level came when his club, Alianza, traveled to Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the Disney Showcase, a tournament for clubs across the country.
A strong performance at the showcase had Arbelaez leaving Orlando with scholarship offers from Indiana, Rutgers, Georgia Southern and his top choice, Illinois-Chicago.
“My dream is to go pro,” Arbelaez said. “But I’m going to let things fall into place.”
Spartans coach Wolfgang Jager believes that Arbelaez has all the traits necessary to play at the college, and ultimately the professional level.
“He’s as complete of a soccer player as you can find,” Jager said. “He has great speed, superior ball skills and can make long passes. His talent is unquestionable.”
While Arbelaez is excited about the possibilities of college soccer and what lies beyond, Jager has been sure to keep him focused on what’s in front of him right now. Despite recent success in the Spartans’ program, Arbelaez has yet to be part of state playoff team.
“Preparing for college means doing the best you can (in high school),” Jager said. “It’s a step in the right direction, but we have to keep our feet on the ground.”
Luckily, Arbelaez’s current endeavors have him motivated, as West Hall looks to make a push for a region title and a state playoff berth.
“We’re ready to take on anybody,” Arbelaez said. “The region knows how to win tough games. But they’re not unbeatable."